Drought conditions lead to herd trimming

RICHARDTON, N.D. — As drought spreads across the upper Great Plains, some cattle producers in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana are reducing their herds.
The latest Drought Monitor, released June 8, shows all of North Dakota in at least abnormally dry conditions, with 13.54 percent in severe drought and 73.92 in moderate drought.
South Dakota’s worst conditions are to the north, where 11.37 percent of the state is in severe drought.
Montana’s worst conditions are to the east, with moderate drought conditions on 16.56 percent of the state and abnormally dry conditions on 20.13 percent.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin listed 35 percent of North Dakota pastures, 40 percent of South Dakota pastures and 24 percent of Montana pastures as in poor or very poor condition.
Vetter says hay crops already are too far gone to bale in some places.
"There are people who would have liked to have gotten some hay with their grains, but it was already heading out."
At least half of the 500 pairs were sold because of drought conditions, and a good chunk of the feeder cattle were heifers that had been intended for replacement.
Pairs that were bringing $2,600 a few months back now are worth only about $1,900.
Eastern Montana hasn’t been quite as dry as North Dakota and South Dakota, but they still are in need of rain, he says.

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